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Saturday, 4 March, 2000, 09:30 GMT
'Royal wedding day' murder re-examined
The Royal Wedding
Vishal went missing as millions watched the Royal wedding
by BBC News Online's Chris Summers

Advances in DNA technology may allow police to reopen an investigation into the death of a boy who went missing on the day of the royal wedding.

The skull and several rib bones of eight-year-old Vishal Mehrotra were discovered in 1982 by pigeon shooters in remote marshland at Durford Abbey Farm, at Rogate, close to the Hampshire-West Sussex border.

Vishal Mehrotra
Vishal: Vanished while shopping
Vishal, from Putney, south-west London, vanished while shopping with his nanny and sister on the day of the marriage of Lady Diana and Prince Charles.

Now it is one of eight cases which Sussex Police are assessing to see whether advances in technology, and the passage of time, make them worth reopening.

Detective Superintendent Dave Gayler, of Sussex Police, said he had been asked to look into the eight cases, in the hope there might be enough evidence to reopen them.

One case which has already been reopened is that of Jessie Earl, who went missing from Eastbourne in 1980. Her decomposed body was found on a cliff at Beachy Head in 1989.

Vishal went missing in July 1981 as many Britons watched Charles and Diana marry on television.

Police in London launched a massive hunt, searching wasteland and asking residents to check outbuildings and gardens.

His body was finally discovered 80 miles away.

Cases under scrutiny
1986: Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows, nine, murdered in Wild Park, Brighton.
1986: Peter Thurgood and Lindy Benstead, shot dead in a lovers' lane at Rake, near Midhurst.
1996: Businessman Richard Watson gunned down outside his home in East Grinstead. His wife and her daughter were acquitted.
A mystery letter writer, who told police he might know the identity of a man who had driven to Rogate from Putney on Royal Wedding day, was later traced but soon afterwards the trail went cold.

Mr Gayler said one line of inquiry which he would inevitably look at would be the possibility that Vishal was the victim of a paedophile gang.

He told BBC News Online: "We would look at similarities with the murders of Jason Swift and Daniel Handley (who were abducted in London, abused and then dumped in rural areas) and look at sex offender registers.

"Paedophiles are a group of people I would certainly look at."

He said there have been a number of cases recently which police have been able to reopen and gain convictions.

Vishal's body was found 80 miles from his home
In one case Merseyside businessman John Taft was jailed for life for the so-called "Beauty In The Bath" murder in 1983.

He was convicted after scientists, using new techniques, were able to identify his DNA from a tiny semen stain.

Mr Gayler also said he would be looking at the files to see if there were any items which, thanks to advances in forensic science, could now produce vital evidence.

Anyone with information on any of the crimes mentioned should contact Det Supt Gayler on 0845 6070999 or ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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